ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – When Von Miller signed with the Bills, they weren’t only getting one of the best pass rushers in the league but also a mentor and someone with a player-coach mindset who embraces bringing along the younger guys.
In his short time with Buffalo, that’s already been on full display as we’ve seen Miller coaching up guys like Greg Rousseau during OTAs and mandatory minicamp. He also took it a step further, outside of the facility as Miller invited Rousseau along with Boogie Basham and A.J. Epenesa to his sixth annual pass rush summit in Las Vegas a few weeks ago.
“I call it the summit and not a clinic because it’s not a place where I go and just ‘everybody listen to Von.’ It’s a summit of all the great pass rushers in the league and it’s just the space that I created that we all make go,” Miller said after day one of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.
“We had a lot of successful pass rushers there: Chandlers Jones, Maxx Crosby, Justin Houston, all these guys came and I just feel success leaves clues. Whenever you get complacent I feel like that’s when you go downhill.”
Miller said his own event is even beneficial for him.
“I feel like being around the young guys they refresh me, being around the guys who have been doing it a long time I can kind of sharpen the knife around those guys and it’s just a great space where we can all get better.”
It’s no secret the Bills are looking for more out of their young pass rushers. They’ve spent a lot of resources building up this defensive line especially in the draft selecting Epenesa with their first pick in 2020 (second-round) and then drafting Rousseau in the first-round and Basham in the second last year.
Sean McDermott even said during OTAs they’re looking for those guys to become primary contributors and really “make a mark” on this defense. So going to Miller’s pass rush summit was certainly an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.
“Those guys were just so open on teaching everything they had in their toolbox whether it was their signature move or different counters that they work on. And just being able to see them work and to see them talk about the details of everything they do within their pass rush,” Epenesa said on Wednesday after practice.
“It kind of made me wanna lock in a little bit more and see that there’s these other little details I can think about as well and just things that I didn’t really think about myself and they had to just kind of open my eyes to it a little bit.”
Epenesa has attended the summit in the past but because of the pandemic, he’s only experienced the event over zoom so this was his first time being there in person.
“I think it’s already benefitted me with different rush tactics and stuff that I wanted to implement myself and utilizing them the past couple weeks, practicing them, trying to get them right for whenever camp does come around and show that I’ve improved on those different aspects as well,” Epenesa explained.
“That was a cool deal where they can get out there, invitation only and they can get out there and be around not only Von in a setting like that but also the other pass rushing specialists that were out there or experts, right? Hands on and the thing that those guys all came back with was just, I think you come back, how couldn’t you come back with confidence, a little bit more confidence than what you had before, right? Just by being around that environment,” head coach Sean McDermott said Tuesday before practice.
Specifically when it comes to Rousseau, Miller said working with him is like “polishing a diamond” with the level of talent he already has. Now it’s just about fine tuning it and even working on the mental side of the game.
“I really don’t try to change guys I just try to really see what they’re thinking, I really try to see their approach and see their mindset because we’re all different players but one thing that we can really bounce off each other is our mindset and I give them my mindset, I give them my view of things and hopefully he can learn from that,” Miller said.
“That’s all the pass rush summit is. It’s not a place where we go change guys, we can just bounce off each other, kind of sharpen the knife and that’s what I do with G [Greg]. He’s big, tall, rangy, I could never play the game the way he plays the game. But when it comes to mindset and the things that I can control those are the ideas that we bounce off each other.”